Submitted to: California Alfalfa Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: November 18, 2005
Publication Date: December 12, 2005
Citation: Martin, N.P., Hatfield, R.D., Mertens, D.R. 2005. Reinventing alfalfa for dairy cattle and novel uses. Proceedings of the 35th California Alfalfa & Forage Symposium. p. 299-311. Technical Abstract: Alfalfa use by dairy cattle has decreased in recent years because of excessive non-protein nitrogen and low fiber digestibility. Ideal attributes for plant modification of alfalfa may include those that: increase milk potential per acre and/or per ton; enhance digestible NDF; optimize protein content and amino acid balance; and improve agronomic traits for insect protection (safer forage supply), herbicide tolerance, virus resistance, drought tolerance, cold tolerance, improved mineral availability and enhanced yield. Progress in attaining and testing these attributes will accelerate with the use of biotechnology. Livestock and hay enterprises will benefit from alfalfa that is less prone to contain mycotoxins or toxic weeds, or to induce bloat; have improved nutrient utilization for milk and meat production; and produce less animal wastes resulting in improved efficiency, profitability, and a better environment. Value-added traits are needed to provide farmers new high value products from alfalfa. Phytase from transgenic alfalfa has been tested in poultry and swine rations and found to improve animal performance.